The Calgary Board of Education plans to use $8.6 million from its capital reserves in order to properly outfit five new schools opening soon.
Four of the new schools — Auburn Bay Elementary, Auburn Bay Middle School, Mahogany School and Skyview Ranch School — are scheduled to open their doors to students next fall, while the long anticipated North Calgary High School is scheduled to open in 2024-25.
'This is not new'
Administration says that while the province does provide funding in a new school budget for basic furniture and equipment, there are many expenses that are not covered, including some technology and the staff required to operate the building prior to opening.
"This is not new. The provincial New School Construction Grant … has always had exclusions to it," said the superintendent of facilities, Dany Breton.
"These exclusions, as far as we're concerned, are essential to a school, such as computers and wireless access points, so that a school has Wi-Fi and these kinds of things."
Trustee Marilyn Dennis said the board is aware the province doesn't fund all of the things the CBE needs to meet the demands of the Calgary public.
"It's important for us to try and make sure that our students and our staff have everything they need to do successful learning in those buildings," she said.
"[It's also a] very prudent decision around having an administration in place ahead of time and also facility staff in place ahead of time just to guide some of the decisions that are being made to be there to answer questions for families."
CBE responsible for 'additional costs'
Alberta Education says it funds construction costs for new schools and provides an allowance for furniture and equipment.
"The project budget established for each capital project typically includes the building construction costs, project expenses, furniture and equipment and career and technology studies equipment, as well as other approved project costs, if applicable," said press secretary Nicole Sparrow.
"The approved budget for furniture and equipment is for the basic furniture and equipment for approved capital projects. If school divisions desire to go above the standard budget, they are responsible to cover those additional costs."
$41.8M in capital reserves
Sparrow said that as of August 2021, the CBE had $41.8 million in capital reserves.
The CBE must now request permission from the province to use the $8.6 million. If approved, the CBE's capital reserves will drop to $33 million.
Administration says to provide all the necessary support for the five new schools to be fully operational, it anticipates $16 million is needed between 2020 and 2025, in addition to provincial funding.